Nine children and one adult killed in Alabama crash during storm

Henrietta Strickland
June 21, 2021

Multiple people were also injured.

Saturday's crash on an interstate highway near the city of Greenville involved at least 15 vehicles and may have been caused by aquaplaning under heavy rains, Butler County coroner Wayne Garlock told AFP.

The storm also poured heavy rain north of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana and along the coast of MS, flooding streets and, in some areas, pushing water into houses.

Flash flood clocks on Sunday were posted on Florida Panhandle, northern Georgia, most of SC, the coast of North Carolina, and parts of southeastern Alabama. A tropical cyclone warning has been issued from the Little River Inlet in North Carolina to the town of Duck in the Outer Banks. Forecasts have issued tropical cyclone surveillance in the Little River Inlet on the South Santee River, South Carolina.

The eight children killed in the van were returning to a youth ranch operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association near Camp Hill, northeast of Montgomery, from a week at the beach in Gulf Shores, youth ranches CEO Michael Smith told The Associated Press. The van ignited after the wreck. Her condition was not immediately known.

Garlock said numerous victims were foster children, but two were Gulley's children.

In the other vehicle, the father was pronounced dead at the scene Garlock said. "It was the worst traffic accident I've witnessed in my life".

"We lost eight young people that can make a difference in our world, we lost eight young people that didn't have a chance to have their own children, we lost eight young people that can't break the cycle of where they've been and change it for their children", Smith said.

According to Garlock, the location of the wreck is "notorious" for hydroplaning, as the northbound highway turns down a hill towards a small stream. The area's I-65 traffic is usually full of vacationers traveling to and from the Gulf of Mexico beaches on summer weekends.

The cars likely hydroplaned, the Butler County coroner told local news outlets.

"Please send prayers our way as we navigate this hard time", the Tallapoosa ranch said in a Facebook post. She was likely saved by bystanders who pulled her from the vehicle while she was unconscious and trapped inside, Smith said.

A website for the ranch shows the children attend Reeltown School. "And she said, 'Please tell my girls I love them'". She then became a relief parent, engaged in and involved in fundraising activities.

Storm total rainfall of 5 to 10 inches with isolated 15 inch amounts was observed in southeast Louisiana, southern MS, southern Alabama, and the western Florida panhandle, the National Hurricane Center reported late Sunday morning.

The center of Claudette's disorganized circulation was located about 15 miles (20 kilometers) east-northeast of Atlanta on Sunday morning. The National Hurricane Center said in a Sunday morning recommendation that it was moving east-northeast at 13 miles per hour (20 km). "Please continue to pray for us as we navigate this hard time".

For the hardware store, he said, that means having supplies like flashlights, batteries, tarps, generators, ropes and sandbags on hand.

At Stack 'em High in Kill Devil Hills, a restaurant that specializes in pancakes, co-owner Dawn Kiousis said Sunday morning restaurant service was busy.

"We're serving just like normal", she said. "Just know she's gonna win".

Separately, the tropical cyclone Dolores landed on the west coast of Mexico with forces close to a hurricane. As of Sunday morning, it had dissipated over Mexico. The wreckage had maximum sustained winds of 25 mph (35 kph) and was centered about 170 miles (275 km) east of Mazatlan, Mexico.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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